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Location - Baltic, Eastern Europe; Capital - Moscow; Population - Kaliningrad - 950,000; Russia - 143 million; Currency - Russian Rouble MORE KALININGRAD

It's an overnight train journey from Vilnius in Lithuania to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. I stopped off in the eastern city of Chernyakhovsk before heading north to Sovetsk and then on to its regional capital - April 2015.

Kaliningrad is the westernmost region of Russia, sandwiched between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic Sea. In Soviet times this made little difference but following its disintegration, the newly independent Lithuania isolated Kaliningrad from the rest of Russia. Consequently the enclave is now surrounded by two EU member states.
To many, Kaliningrad is better known by its German name, Königsberg, formerly part of the German kingdom of (East) Prussia. In 1945 Stalin's Red Army seized control of the region and much of the German population fled, were deported or killed.

A highly strategic and militarised region with the only year round ice-free port in Russia, it was off-limits to foreigners until the break up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Even now permits are required to access the Baltiysk Spit.


russianote1Like the rest of Russia the Rouble is the currency of the Kaliningrad enclave









kaliningrad20Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, aka Lenin, Bolshevik leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution - Chernyakhovsk


kaliningrad18The main attraction of Chernyakhovsk is the 14th century Insterburg Castle


kaliningrad16German words in the grounds of Insterburg Castle, 'Insterburg das Schloss'. Insterburg was the German name for Chernyakhovsk while schloss means castle













kaliningrad19Opposite the castle is a pond surrounded by rather decrepit buildings - Chernyakhovsk














kaliningrad25I guess this marks the 70 year anniversary relating to the Soviet Union's war against Nazi Germany in WWII. This was a result of Hitler's breaking the secret Soviet-German non-aggression Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1941, when he invaded the USSR - Chernyakhovsk


kaliningrad27There's plenty of water towers dotted around the enclave, this one being on ul Sportivnaya - Chernyakhovsk


kaliningrad29Granted the pavement's being repaired here, but my feeling was of a neglected, run down city in need of an economic boost - Chernyakhovsk













kaliningrad30 The 19th century St Michael's Church - Chernyakhovsk














kaliningrad31A little bit of street art near the market in Chernyakhovsk


kaliningrad14A short drive out of Chernyakhovsk are the ruins of Georgenburg Castle


kaliningrad11And next door to the castle is Georgenburg Stud Farm which also has a hotel - Chernyakhovsk













kaliningrad3Before arriving in Chernyakhovsk, Russian immigration formalities take place at the border town of Nesterov


kaliningrad36From Chernyakhovsk I took a bus to Sovetsk, passing through Slavsk on the way















kaliningrad39Sovetsk lies on the the northern border with Lithuania. These tanks are part of an outdoor museum but there is a significant military presence in the area


kaliningrad42The Queen Louise Bridge over the Nemunas River links Sovetsk to Panemune in Lithuania


kaliningrad47Pretty big! In days gone by elk (or moose in America) were prevalent in the Baltics but I'm not sure how many are around today - Sovetsk













kaliningrad51There's plenty of shops along the pedestrianised ul Pobedy - Sovetsk














kaliningrad49The obligatory Lenin statue - Sovetsk


kaliningrad55An eternal flame sits in front of a memorial honouring military heroes - Sovetsk


kaliningrad59A colourful onion-domed church - Sovetsk















kaliningrad62I love this cute little sculpture outside a shop on Leninsky pr - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad63On the opposite side of Leninsky pr is the Mother Russia monument - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad67Ploshchad Pobedy is the main square of Kaliningrad. It translates to Victory Square, honouring Russia's victory over Germany.
In 1934 the square was called Adolf Hitler Platz after the Nazi leader














kaliningrad66Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on Ploshchad Pobedy - Kaliningrad















kaliningrad76One of the best bars in Kaliningrad is Kmel, inside the Clover City Centre on Ploshchad Pobedy. Help yourself to beers brewed on-site, local cuisine and horse-radish vodka (disgusting!)


kaliningrad86Peter the Great stands on Mira Street, a grand avenue with stately mansions as well as the Drama Theatre - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad85Two bronze fighting bulls, though not sure the red bits are the original colour! Kaliningrad













kaliningrad89The Scala cinema has a quote from Woody Allen alongside his specs - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad90A striking shop shutter on Mira Street - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad91Also on Mira Street is the Cosmonaut Monument, dedicated to the four Kaliningrad-born cosmonauts - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad96A larger-than-life statue of Moscow-born musician Vladimir Vysotsky in Central Park - Kaliningrad













kaliningrad94 Of all things, Central Park's Queen Louise Memorial Church has been converted to a puppet theatre - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad82Worth a visit is the Bunker Museum, just off Leninsky pr - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad81It was the German military bunker where Otto Lasch surrendered to the Soviets in the Battle of Konigsberg, April 1945 - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad98The man-made Prud Nizhniy, or Lower Pond, is a recreational area - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad103Walk along the east side towards the Upper Pond and take in some street art - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad104Lower Pond street art - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad105The tag 'Kartoon' pops up a few times around the city - Kaliningrad



Also on Lower Pond is the History & Arts Museum, which has a large section on the USSR's war against the Nazis, though it's virtually all in Russian. And is that a Stalin statue gathering dust in the basement? Kaliningrad


kaliningrad117Kaliningrad was protected by a series of forts built in the 19th century, this one being Dohna Tower













kaliningrad120 In WWII it was the last fort under German control to surrender to the Red Army. Today the Dohna Tower houses the Amber Museum - Kaliningrad













kaliningrad126Right next door is Rossgarten Gate, now converted to a restaurant - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad263Opposite the Lower Pond's northern tip is the Upper Pond, where couples and families go for walks while the kids rollerskate and play basketball - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad264Prud Verhniy, or Upper Pond - Kaliningrad















kaliningrad265Fishing on the Upper Pond with the Dohna Tower behind - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad153An attractive place for al fresco dining and drinking (in warm weather at least) is Fish Village, a small reconstructed quarter on the banks of the Pregolya River - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad151Fish Village, with the grey monstrosity that is the Dom Sovietov to the left. Dom Sovietov (House of Soviets) was built on the site of the 13th century Konigsberg Castle that was destroyed in WWII. However, due to inadequate foundations, it has never been occupied - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad155The lighthouse at Fish Village, with Kaliningrad Cathedral across the river - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad157Another quality sculpture (not a real door!) - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad158A Fish Village mural - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad163Kaliningrad Cathedral, Fish Village and the Pregolya River - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad166Kaliningrad Cathedral is situated on tiny Kant Island. It originally dates back to the 14th century but was the subject of major reconstruction in 1990 - Kaliningrad













kaliningrad167Outside the Cathedral is the tomb of Immanuel Kant - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad83Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher, born in what was then Konigsberg (modern day Kaliningrad) - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad180Opposite the Cathedral is the 19th century former stock exchange - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad183On Kant Island in front of Kaliningrad Cathedral is Sculpture Park, which includes one more of Peter the Great - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad184The Museum of the World Ocean lies on the northern bank of the Pregolya - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad187The outstretched arms of St Nicholas stand in front of the Monument to Fishermen near the World Ocean Museum - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad192The Museum of the World Ocean comprises ships, a submarine, various naval machinery and weaponry as well as several exhibitions - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad195On board the Vityaz, a former scientific research ship - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad196The hammer and sickle is a Communist symbol that adorned the USSR flag - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad208This Sunday was Russian Orthodox Easter and the locals were out in force on the banks of the Pregolya River, with plenty of food stalls, makeshift bars and live music - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad207A brass band are introduced to the crowds at the Museum of the World Ocean complex - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad209Shashlyk, huge chunks of barbecued skewered lamb, make a filling meal with bread and salad - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad215Standing on the B413 submarine while windsurfers strut their stuff on the Pregolya - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad224A photo of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, hangs in the submarine mess - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad225Experience the cramped conditions of a submarine and see how all space is put to use - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad233A B413 submarine missile launcher - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad294The family orientated Park of Culture and Recreation - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad296Brilliant! While in the park I stumbled across the Upside Down House - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad303And yes everything is topsy turvy inside too - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad250Close to the south bank of the Pregolya is Friedrichsburg Gate, one of several forts surrounding the city.
It dates to the 17th century but was reconstructed in the 19th century - Kaliningrad













kaliningrad134King's Gate, or Royal Gate, is on Frunze Street in the east of the city and also houses a museum - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad137A short walk brings you to Sackheim Gate - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad268 The circular Wrangel Tower lies between Dohna Tower and Ploshchad Pobedy - Kaliningrad














kaliningrad143Outside the South train station is a statue of Mikhail Kalinin, the Russian after whom Stalin named the city, though I don't think he ever set foot here - Kaliningrad















Two forts near the South train station are, left, Friedland Gate, while on the right is Brandenburg Gate - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad289A monument to war dead (air force?) though the inscriptions are in Cyrillic so I couldn't tell which. Time to learn Russian! Kaliningrad


kaliningrad309And back to the 19th century forts. The Astronomical Bastion is on Gvardeysky Street in the west - Kaliningrad















kaliningrad315Keep heading south along Gvardeysky Street to the Eternal Flame - Kaliningrad

















kaliningrad313Honouring the WWII dead - Kaliningrad


kaliningrad319A random statue between Hotel Kaliningrad and the bridge to Kant Island. Love the cat! Kaliningrad


kaliningrad322Close by is another work tagged by Kartoon - Kaliningrad


















kaliningrad323Clever use of shapes in this street art - Kaliningrad















kaliningrad324Obama Pizza! Any copyright infringement here? Kaliningrad


kaliningrad326Originally this statue of Lenin stood in front of the Cathedral, but it was removed and in 2006 placed here, along a road between the bus and train stations - Kaliningrad


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LINKS - coaches to Kaliningrad - Russian Railways website - Kaliningrad tourist board - Russia National Tourist Office - UK/Russia based company - visa support and train tickets - Seat 61's page on train travel in Russia


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